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Monthly Economic and Financial Developments, November 2017

Published: Wednesday December 27th, 2017

Indications are that the domestic economy improved modestly during the review month in comparison to 2016, as increased visitor arrivals and a boost in hotel capacity, contributed to gains in tourism output. In addition, construction sector output continued to be supported by varied-scale foreign investment projects. Monetary developments were dominated by the receipt of proceeds from the Government’s external bond issue, which boosted liquidity and external reserves.

Real Sector


Preliminary indicators suggest that the tourism sector improved in November, as data from the Nassau Airport Development Company (NAD) showed a 4.9% increase in international departures during the review month, as opposed to 2016’s 0.9% softening. In terms of the components, non-U.S. international traffic rebounded by 5.1% from an 8.8% contraction last year, while the growth in U.S. departures quickened to 4.9% from a mere 0.6% in 2016.

A more in-depth analysis of visitor trends using the latest official data from the Ministry of Tourism, showed that total arrivals to The Bahamas expanded by 30.2% during October, vis-à-vis a 10.8% falloff in the prior year, when Hurricane Matthew impacted key destinations in the country. In comparison to October 2015, arrivals were also up by 16.1%. In terms of the major markets, traffic to Grand Bahama—which was severely impacted by the storm in 2016—nearly doubled on a yearly basis. This outturn reflected gains in sea and air visitors of 116.8% and 26.8%, compared to reductions of 84.1% and 72.3%, respectively, in the prior year. Similarly, Family Island markets firmed by 67.7%, buoyed by gains in cruise and air arrivals, by 72.2% and 32.3%, reversing respective contractions of 30.6% and 14.7% in the previous period. In a modest offset, the growth in total visitors to New Providence slowed to 17.0%, from 21.5% a year earlier, as the gains in sea traffic eased to 16.6% from 40.3% in 2016; however, the air component firmed by 18.9%, a reversal from the 24.7% decline a year earlier.

Over the first 10 months of the year, tourism inflows remained weak, as visitor arrivals contracted by 3.0%, vis-à-vis a 2.8% uptick in the comparable period of 2016. This reflected declines in both the air and sea segments, by 6.9% and 1.8%, a reversal from gains of 0.9% and 3.4%, respectively, recorded in the prior year. In Grand Bahama, arrivals plunged by 29.9%, amid contractions in both the air and sea segments by 48.6% and 26.5%, respectively. Comparatively, visitors to the Family Islands fell by 2.4%, reflecting a falloff in the dominant cruise segment by 4.8%, overshadowing the 11.7% gain in air arrivals. Further, in New Providence, total visitors firmed by 3.7%, as the 7.7% increase in sea visitors, eclipsed the 5.9% falloff in air tourists.

In line with these developments, preliminary data from the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association showed a 13.0% increase in estimated room revenues for October, relative to the prior year, supported by a 6.1 percentage point rise in hotel occupancy to 47.9%; although the average daily room rate (ADR) softened by 0.8% to $171.06. In contrast, total room revenue fell by 7.0% over the 10-month period, due to declines in both the average occupancy rate, by 4.5 percentage points to 64.8%, and the ADR, by 2.4% to $234.76.

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